Matt Brammeier (Champion System Pro Cycling Team) signalled his intent to race aggressively throughout the spring campaign when he joined the first significant break in Wednesday's Dwars door Vlaanderen. The Irish national champion linked up with a 14-man move on the first climb of the day before dropping out of contention in the final 30 kilometres.
After losing contact with the leaders he eventually retired from the race.
"It was grim out there. It took a long time for the break to go from the start and I didn't have much left when they caught us. I committed to go in it and had to keep going with everything and make sure I could get something out of the race," he told Cyclingnews at the finish.
Champion System lack pedigree for the Belgium races, and Brammeier and teammate Bobbie Traksel represent their limited but experienced core. It means that both riders have to enter each race with a proactive and aggressive stance, knowing that they are being relied upon to represent the team in the deciding moments of the Belgium campaign.
"I just have to take my chances and go into breaks. Maybe one day it will work out. We don't really have super strong team that can support me in the finale so I can't really wait too long and then go with the big guys. I need to get a jump on them and be in front of them. I'm never really going to take time on the big teams, they give me time and that's always the plan at the start."
Brammeier moved to Champion System after a disappointing year with Omega Pharma-QuickStep. The Belgium team snapped him up after HTC-Highroad folded at the tail end of 2011 with a number of riders making the move to Patrick Lefevere's team. While Tony Martin, Bert Grabsch, Frantisek Rabon and the Velits brothers all settled, Brammeier found life at the Belgian team a little tougher. Illness ruled him out of most of the Classics but it still came as a shock when he found out via the press that the team would not be renewing his one-year deal.
"I didn't feel a good vibe there and towards the end of the year they didn't want to keep me so I started to look around. It was all pretty late in the year and I had one team which was not guaranteed but I was putting all my hopes on and that all fell through when the Spidertech team stopped and all their riders were going teams for free. That fucked me up really so if it wasn't for that I would be in a WorldTour team this year."
Those WorldTour ambitions have certainly not abated and Brammeier will aim to showcase his pedigree during Champion System's remaining Belgian races.
"This time last year I was a little bit sick and missed the Classics. That was gutting but I'm starting to feel good and come strong so hopefully in one of these races I can pick something up. Today was a good day. I got what I wanted and got in the break it's just a shame it didn't work our results wise.
"I'm looking to get back into the WorldTour. With this team I have my own chances but I'd like to make that step back up. I know I can be in a bigger team and hopefully I can be back there this year."